Apologies ahead of time. We had our first scrimmage of the year this weekend, the O'Bannon case got a ruling, and SEC Network premiers this week. Accordingly, the Jumbo Package a bit more Jumbo-y today.
What exactly did the judge rule?
Wilken's injunction has two components: A) The NCAA can't cap the amount of a scholarship below the actual cost of attendance; and B) The NCAA can't ban schools from creating a trust fund to pay players equal shares for use of their NILs. For the trust fund, the NCAA and schools are allowed to cap the amount, but it can't be lower than $5,000 for every year an athlete remains academically eligible. The schools can't conspire to fix these amounts at a set price, thus creating competition.
Wilken's injunction, although a win for the O'Bannon plaintiffs, could have been worse for the NCAA. The $5,000 number could have been higher. The injunction doesn't allow athletes to receive money for endorsements, citing efforts by the NCAA and its schools to protect against "commercial exploitation." And the injunction doesn't prevent the NCAA from creating rules that prohibit athletes from selling their NIL rights individually.
I know this is news, so I have to share it, but we have football to talk about now. So let's not, m'kay?
One of the two studios we were able to visit on the tour was the set for the daily show that will appear on SECN, called "SEC Now." I've got to be honest, when I first heard that name, I thought it sounded a little hokey. But one of the first things we got to see in the studio was some footage of the practice sessions of Maria Taylor and Dari Nowkhah getting ready for the launch, and I liked how Dari used the phrase as the show was opening. For example, in the teaser at the beginning, he'd say something like... "And there's a big controversy brewing about (something). Let's talk about it... NOW!" That probably doesn't really translate well to print, but it worked for me as I listened to it.
As with everything you see on ESPN nowadays, the set is super-high-tech. There are giant touchscreens, lots of video boards, a customizable ticker above one of the desks, and movable walls to create different visual settings. Also, you get this view when you're walking down the hall to the studio, so that helps pump you up. (This is every single Division I-A team's football helmet hanging on the wall, roughly arranged by conference.)
This is a pretty cool article that gives a look behind the curtain of the SEC Network. Set designs and interviews with the personalities that we all we will be seeing much of shortly are included. If you are excited about August 14th, check it out.
The weight room at Daphne is where his high school coach still sees Alabama's star running back from time to time. He likes to work out alone, Glenn Vickery says.
The spotlight just isn't Yeldon's comfort zone, despite his big credentials. A former 5-star recruit, Yeldon's the first player in Alabama history to run for 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons. The junior is on pace to challenge the Alabama career record this fall.
He's gone about his work quietly. Some even call him shy. For a player with his accomplishments, the 6-foot-2, 221-pound junior flies somewhat under the radar. Unlike fellow running backs Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake, Yeldon isn't a big presence on social media. Interviews are rare and his answers are often short, but he says they don't bother him.
For Vickery and a few of his Alabama coaches, they see a player with a hyper-focus on improving his game.
Yesterday, I was talking to some people at church and I heard an opinion being shared that I don't think is all that uncommon. It basically boiled down to "Derrick Henry is a monster, Kenyan Drake is a burner, Yeldon is good, but he's not really great in either area..." The position was even strengthened to the point that this person thought Henry and Drake should/would end up being #1 and #2.
I'm continually baffled by the disrespect that's constantly thrown at Yeldon. The guy is #1, and from my vantage point, it's not even really close right now.
Don’t call it a tirade, because it wasn’t. But when Nick Saban was asked on Saturday how he and the staff were preparing for hurry-up, no-huddle offenses, he didn’t exactly answer in kind.
"You know, in all honesty, guys, you all make way too much of this," he said.
Oh, do tell.
"I mean, [Auburn] had 21 points against us with 30 seconds to go in the game, and I don’t think anybody held them to 21 points all year long," Saban said. "I saw them score 60 in the SEC Championship Game, or whatever. We shut Ole Miss out here. We had four turnovers against Oklahoma that led to 28 points; two [touchdowns] the defense never even got back on the field."
You know what that sounds like? Excuses.
What the deuce, Alex? Been hanging out with Scarbinsky or something? One more strike and you're on my dunzo list.
4. Depth was tested on the defensive line We mentioned it before, but the defensive front has had a tough time. There's a silver lining, though, as the suspensions and injury allowed some younger guys to step into roles.
Saban said ends Jonathan Allen and D.J. Pettway have impressed with Robinson and Reed missing time. Darren Lake "has made some improvement" at nose tackle with Ivory missing almost a full week. Massive freshman Josh Frazier got increased snaps as a result of the circumstances.
Dalvin Tomlinson has also made moves at end, but missed the scrimmage after a teammate stepped on his toe in Friday's practice.
Somebody put Dalvin in a freaking bubble suit until the season starts. I really want to see this kid succeed.
"I always say that the two positions I feel like a guy can play at more quickly than others is probably running back and receiver," Saban said. "I mean, I think if you're an instinctive player and you have the skill set there's not a whole lot to learn. And those are the two positions that, yeah, technique's important, running the plays right is important, but no coach teaches you how to make a guy miss."
Explosive speed is either there or not. "No coach really teaches you to run past the corner because you're faster than they are," Saban said. "So, technically, I think there's probably less that those positions have to learn, so I think they're more apt to being able to play earlier, especially if they're skilled and talented guys."
There's no telling how many of Alabama's injured players would have been active if Saturday's scrimmage were a real game. With three weeks to go before the Crimson Tide's season opener against West Virginia, the precautionary measures were understandable, especially with heavy rains soaking the Bryant-Denny Stadium turf.
Regardless, the performance from those who were on the field Saturday wasn't up to standard, a rain-drenched Nick Saban said. "Defensively, we have a long way to go," Saban said. "I think we missed a lot of tackles. We had a lot of young players that are getting a lot of opportunities because of the players that we have out. "We have a lot of defensive players that are out that if you added them up in the two-deep, that's quite a few guys."
For all the faults that surfaced during the toughest of times, the Crimson Tide's offense wasn't broken under Doug Nussmeier. His replacement, Lane Kiffin, came away with this realization weeks before he had any idea he'd be tapped to take the reigns of a Crimson Tide offense many believed wasn't playing up to its potential.
"The last thing we'd want to do is come in and change a bunch of stuff," Kiffin said. "As I mentioned before, it's a great offensive staff that's been together here. Had a great run here last year on offense, the number of players had great success last year."
New York Jets cornerback Dee Milliner's injury problems are continuing in his second year as a pro. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported on Sunday afternoon the former Alabama All-American had suffered a high ankle sprain on Sunday while practicing at the Jets' training camp in Courtland, N.Y.
San Diego Chargers offensive tackle D.J. Fluker told Dick Lewis, the team's director of player outreach: "I want to go out and talk to kids about life." The former Alabama standout ended up at the Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility, addressing the youngsters there weekly until training camp interrupted his routine.
"I just want to motivate them," Fluker told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I'm trying to show them that there're better things in life, that they can do so much more."
Nancy Clever, a counselor at the detention facility, said Fluker connects with the youngsters because of his background - left homeless by Hurricane Katrina as a teenage - and his passion.
"You can feel the emotion when he talks," Clever said. "It's as big as he is."
Nick Saban's press conference following Saturday's scrimmage:
Players warm up before Saturday's scrimmage:
ESPN - Alabama All-Access